Get in loser, we’re watching Mean Girls (2024)!

The Mean Girls musical film, which premiered on January 12 and is in theatres now, follows the same plot as the 2004 cult classic. 

If you’ve been living under a rock for the last 20 years — or if you’ve been labelled a “homeschooled jungle freak” like the film’s protagonist — the Mean Girls story follows 16-year-old Cady Heron (Angourie Rice), who goes to high school in the US for the first time after being homeschooled by her researcher mom (Jenna Fischer) in Kenya. She befriends artsy Janis ‘Imi‘ike (Auliʻi Cravalho) and theatrical Damian Hubbard (Jaquel Spivey), but she is ultimately pulled into the school’s popular clique, The Plastics — consisting of the head diva Regina George (Reneé Rapp), ditzy Karen Shetty (Avantika Vandanapu), and insecure Gretchen Wieners (Bebe Wood). Cady infiltrates the clique to learn its secrets and woo her crush, Aaron Samuels (Christopher Briney), but soon, she finds herself captivated by the world of the titular mean girls.

The 2024 cast had significant hot pink shoes to fill, and they did so remarkably. Rapp, who reprised her role as Regina from the 2019–2020 Broadway production of Mean Girls, stole the show in her captivating performances of fan-favourite songs from the musical, such as “Someone Gets Hurt” and “World Burn.” Her character is still delightfully vicious, despite some of her lines lacking the same cruel bite as 2004 Regina. 

Cravalho’s charmingly spunky characterization of Janis was spot-on, and she was phenomenal in her performance of “I’d Rather Be Me.” Spivey and Vandanapu were comedic standouts in their respective roles as Damien and Karen. Although I loved Rice’s performance as Cady, her lack of musical theatre experience compared to her castmates was at times evident, as they tended to overshadow her singing in this film. 

One major caveat of the movie was its insistence on modernizing the original story by including storytelling through social media, although it did so better than its stage production. Its TikTok montages felt cringeworthy and out of touch, especially compared to the rest of the film’s clever humour. I found that a modernization of the Mean Girls plotline was unnecessary in the first place because Gen Z had already grown up watching the film. 

I also felt that the movie’s attempt to make costumes feel trendy for Gen Z audiences fell flat. In bleak comparison to the 2004 film, whose iconic outfits continue to inspire “Y2K fashion” to this day, 2024 Regina dons corset tops and neon pants that could be found on SHEIN’s homepage in 2020. While the recent increase of fast fashion is partly to blame, I found that the musical remake could have better tastefully recreated nostalgic styles, perhaps like in the high school film Bottoms (2023).

Most of Mean Girls’ (2024) criticism stems from its marketing, which confused the public — the musical aspect of the movie was omitted from much of its promotional material, and some of its trailers hid the fact that it was a musical, with one trailer opting to use Olivia Rodrigo’s “get him back!” as background music rather than a song from its own soundtrack. This reflects a recent effort from marketing teams to hide the fact that movie musicals are, in fact, musicals — such as for the movie Wonka (2023) — seemingly just to increase ticket sales. 

This marketing tactic backfired on the part of Mean Girls (2024) because it gave audiences both heightened and skewed expectations. General audiences expected a reboot of the 2004 movie instead of a movie adaptation of the musical. The poor public perception of the movie before it was even released resulted from this miscommunication, and I think marketing the remake toward musical theatre lovers would have been a better choice. 

Despite these faults, Mean Girls (2024) successfully captures the essence of the stage production and the 2004 film. Dance numbers and dream sequences are fabulously campy: “Revenge Party” and “Sexy” are standouts. Iconic dialogue from the 2004 movie is combined with hysterical new lines — Karen describes Regina’s pimple as “sexy, like a face breast” — and the immensely talented ensemble delivered a spectacular performance. Arguably, the musical sequences were the best part of the film. In fact, I wish the movie had incorporated more material from the musical setlist, especially Gretchen and Karen’s parts in “Meet the Plastics.”Is Mean Girls (2024) corny? Absolutely.

Is Mean Girls (2024) as good as the original movie? Of course not. But it’s not trying to be. Is Mean Girls (2024) fun? Well, I would say it’s pretty “grool.”